Raelene Morey interview

Hey, WordPress folks! What have you been doing lately? Here at ThemeIsle, we’ve been busy making WordPress a better CMS, just like today’s interviewee, Raelene Morey. Raelene is a writer who describes herself as a lover of words. She has a strong background in content marketing and web development, so if you’re interested in WordPress and content, you should check this one out!

If you missed our previous interviews, you can see them all in their dedicated category. Our last interview featured Morten Rand-Hendriksen discussing ethics in web design.

Now, back to Raelene. 🙂

Raelene Morey interview
Raelene hasn’t always worked with WordPress – she started her career as a journalist, working for Australia’s biggest media publications and receiving many awards during this time.

After years of writing for newspapers, she turned back to what she loved more – technology – by finding a job that allowed her to blend both web development and writing. Specifically – working with content at WPMU DEV.

If you read a lot about WordPress, you’ve probably come across some WPMU DEV articles either written or edited by Raelene. Moreover, you might have heard about The WhiP newsletter, also delivered by WPMU DEV, which Raelene was behind until not too long ago. Personally, I am a fan of The WhiP. Not only for its great resources but also because it’s really fun.

At this very moment, Raelene Morey is doing more of the same, only no longer for a single company. Recently, she started her own business – Words by Birds – where she’s working on copywriting and editing for a growing list of clients.

That’s enough from us! Here’s the complete Raelene Morey interview:

Raelene Morey Interview – Former WPMU DEV (and The WhiP) Editor

When and how did you start working with WordPress?

Raelene Morey:
In high school, I loved building websites; playing with HTML and CSS and hitting refresh to see my code come to life. I built sites so I could share photos with friends, sites around my school work—I built so many sites! I wanted to experiment with the code I was learning from magazines and websites.

When it came time to choose what to study at university, I was torn. I loved web development and technology, but also loved writing. So like the Old El Paso add, I thought, “¿Porque no los dos?” and chose both. I studied journalism and computer science.

After graduating, I worked as a newspaper journalist and editor, which I absolutely loved. Meeting people and writing their stories for a living was amazing. In my spare time I was still building websites, but for my family and community groups. It was around this time that I discovered WordPress. I loved that it was so easy to customize and I could set up a self-hosted website with little effort.

In 2012, I left journalism to work as a wordsmith for WPMU DEV and loved that I was finally able to combine my love of writing and web development. I went on to become managing editor, looking after a team of contributors, and enjoyed working with a distributed team of awesome, talented people from all over the world. It was sad to leave, but after 4+ years there, I left last November to start my own business, Words By Birds. It’s been amazing working with other WordPress businesses over the past nine months.

How would you describe this transition from journalism to writing content for marketing purposes? Was it a big challenge for you to adapt?

Raelene Morey:
The challenge for me early on was adapting to working in the WordPress community. While I was familiar with how to use the WordPress software, I was less familiar with the huge community around it. So it was a learning curve getting up to speed on all that.

As far as transitioning from journalism to marketing goes, it wasn’t a big challenge. I worked in public relations for a couple of years after graduating from uni, so I was able to leverage those promotional skills. But at the end of the day, marketing is about storytelling, and as a former journalist, I’m uniquely qualified to do that. I spent 8 years working in journalism telling people’s stories and have refined those skills for my own business.

The amazing thing about writing content for digital marketing is that there are so many different means of communication, from websites and blogs to email, in-site messaging, chatbots and social media. Writing for all these channels presents different challenges, i.e. writing a 2000-word blog post is very different from writing a targeted marketing message for a website homepage. But I enjoy the variety and working with clients to help refine their brand voice.

You used to write for WPMU DEV, then you started an independent business. How different is managing everything on your own now?

Raelene Morey:
It’s not all that much different, to be honest. At WPMU DEV, I worked closely with different teams on different projects, but had a lot of autonomy to manage the blog and the Academy (WPMU DEV’s online learning portal).

At first, I loved working from home. Since WPMU DEV is based in Melbourne where I lived, I worked in an office for several years. Working from home was a nice change—until it wasn’t a nice change. I quickly got tired of working alone. I love being around people and collaborating. Working from cafes quickly lost its shine!

So recently I started working from One Roof, a fantastic female-focused co-working space that supports women in business. It has been a lovely change and incredibly motivating working with other women who run businesses.

What’s your technique for staying productive throughout the day?

Raelene Morey:
To-do lists! I don’t know what I’d do without my to-do lists. I’m a Mac person so I use Notes to sync my notes between my devices.

I keep a running to-do list of what I need to do each day and get a lot of satisfaction from ticking off items. I also use Trello to organize my business, with lists for current and upcoming projects, clients, and other things I need to keep on top of. I recently went hiking with a new friend who happens to work for Trello! So it was great to pick his brains and get tips for using it effectively, but also make suggestions for how to improve it.

I think the most important thing for productivity is getting enough sleep. When I first started my business, I would work really long days and not spend enough time winding down before going to bed. So I’d have restless sleep and not wake up refreshed. Having a good night’s sleep is critical.

Really, productivity is tough! There’s no magic pill. I just wing it and see what happens.

How do you define “being successful”?

Raelene Morey:
The definition of success is different for everyone. For me, it’s about gratitude and taking the time to appreciate what I have. But also living without regrets—saying ‘yes’ to new challenges even when things are hard, spending as much time as I can with loved ones, constantly learning, and trying to be the best version of myself.

Where do you get your clients from? Do you have any strategy to get yourself promoted on a regular basis?

Raelene Morey:
When I first started out, I approached a couple of companies I wanted to work with and offered to do some free work in return for testimonials. From there, things started snowballing.

I don’t have a particular strategy in place right now, but I do have content marketing plans in mind for the next couple of years. Growth has been organic so far. Clients usually find me through word of mouth and stick around—most have stayed with me from the beginning. I do my best to provide clients with top-notch, quality content, but also help them understand the impact of content marketing on their business and give them advice on how to leverage it.

What do you like to do when you’re not WordPress-ing?

Raelene Morey:
Hiking, riding my bike around Melbourne, searching for good coffee, and spending time with my boyfriend, friends and family. I also love traveling—right now I’m writing this on the Spirit of Tasmania, a ferry that travels between Melbourne and Devonport across Bass Strait. I’m originally from Tasmania and I’m on my way to visit my family for a few days.

What do you wish more people knew about WordPress?

Raelene Morey:
I wish more people outside of WordPress knew that it’s developed and supported by a huge international community of volunteers and businesses that help build it. So many people think it’s just another privately-owned solution like Wix or Squarespace. But it’s so much more than that.

Who’s doing things that are just cutting-edge and incredible in the WordPress space right now?

Raelene Morey:
Two WordPress businesses come to mind: Prospress and Nextend.

Prospress launched Robot Ninja last year, the first automated testing tool for WooCommerce. When you connect Robot Ninja to your online store, it runs a comprehensive suite of tests, checking that your store is functioning as it should be. So many store owners set up WooCommerce and neglect to test it, and then get complaints from customers when their checkout inevitably breaks. I’ve been working with the Robot Ninja team on case studies about their product and their customers have only overwhelming praise for what they’ve developed. They have a couple of exciting new projects in the works, too.

Nextend is also doing incredible work. They’re the company behind Smart Slider 3, which is easily the best-designed WordPress plugin I’ve ever used. I mean, I used to be like everyone else, I thought sliders were a waste of time. But when I started using Smart Sliders 3, I was blown away by what I could do with it. The Nextend guys have obviously put a ton of work into design and development, and I hope people recognize it!

Describe the WordPress community in one word.

Raelene Morey:
Diverse.

What’s the one thing you’d like to change about WordPress?

Raelene Morey:
I wish WordPress were easier for noobs to use. For people who’ve used WordPress for 10+ years like me, using it is second nature. But I know so many people who run their own small businesses and flock to Wix and Squarespace because WordPress scares them. Then they quickly reach the limitations of those platforms and get stuck and don’t know what to do.

But… at the same time, many people don’t value the work of skilled designers, developers and content creators. They think their work should be cheap or even free. This is a big reason why Wix and Squarespace are so attractive to small businesses starting out—they don’t want to invest in a website. Many don’t understand the value, which is crazy because having a cheap, poorly-designed website with basic functionality is like renting a physical storefront on the edge of town where no one’s going to find you or trust your products or services.

You’re currently hosting a video course about content on Skillshare. Is there room for growth in this direction?

Raelene Morey:
Yes, definitely! Earlier this year, Skillshare approached me about working on a content creation course for their platform, which resulted in my course Creating Content That People Love to Read (and Google Loves to Rank). So far, 400 students have joined the course. It’s been amazing seeing so many people benefit from the content. It’s also nice to see it get positive reviews.

Just this week, I’ve agreed to work with Skillshare again on a second course, which will be focused on helping businesses learn new ways they can promote their product/service on a shoestring budget. When you’re running a business, time and money is usually tight and marketing takes a back seat behind product/service development. So I want to help business owners learn about free and actionable ways they can get their business known online.

This new course should be available on Skillshare later this year. So watch this space!

That sums up our Raelene Morey interview. If you have any questions for her, please leave them in the comments section. Also, if you have any suggestions for who we should talk to next, feel free to give us some names, as well!

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